According to a very well-placed source who is close to the situation, there may be, could be an intense review by both high-ranking racing officials and others into the name of a 3-year-old by Uncle Mo who ran in New York today.
Grape Soda won the first race at Aqueduct today, and the gelding did so convincingly — romping off to win by nearly 7 lengths.
No controversy there.
But soon after the race was official, there has been a lot of social media stir about how the horse got his name, and if it refers to a “racial slur,” or not.
The social media wars have heated up rather significantly after trainer Eric Guillot referred to this horse as “Black Beauty” on his Twitter Account.
In addition, according to a screen shot of an earlier Twitter feed from Guillot, the trainer wrote:
“This colt will run next week and has unique name in honor of a TVG analyst.”
Supposedly, the TVG analyst in question may be Ken Rudolph, who is an African-America commentator on the racing network.
This afternoon, some Twitter accounts posted questions on Guillot’s Twitter account.
“this is racist.”
“your friend Ken from TVG ain’t to impressed you won…”
Guillot replied to that post with this writing:
“I cann’t stand hypocrites or phonies and he’s BOTH! I don’t need to explain to anyone a f….ing thing but I am the furthest from RACIST bro.”
Then, a bit later, Guillot did go on to further explain:
“When I went home for Xmas my 88 year Mother got a kick out of me naming a horse after my favorite drink when I was little boy she always reminded me of it for years! I’ll send her a pic.”
Guillot followed that with both “Heart” emojis and “Praying Hands” emojis.
Ken Rudolph wrote this on his Twitter feed today:
“The winner in the race #1 from Aqueduct is the perfect example of my issue with horse racing. The winning trainer is a disgusting and racist man. But, if you want to make money in this game you have to be able to ignore that stuff. I can’t do it. But y’all carry on with your $11.”
Just minutes ago, “The Pressbox” reached out via Twitter to Guillot. We asked:
“What is your official statement regarding the controversy over the name of ‘Grape Soda.’ We understand that New York racing officials may be looking into this matter.”
To his credit, Guillot responded quickly with this answer:
“I have no idea what that’s all about,” he wrote. He finished with an emoji of a person shrugging both hands.
“The Pressbox” did reach one person connected to NYRA this evening. When asked about this issue, the source wrote:
“This is the first time I’m hearing about this.”
It is not the first time that Guillot has found his name in the headlines surrounding a controversy, though.
In 2013, Guillot alleged that jockey Luis Saez used an electronic device when the rider’s mount, Will Take Charge, edged his horse Moreno in the G1 Travers Stakes.
Less than a month after that race, Guillot was quoted as saying:
“They won’t use the machine on him in back-to-back races,” Guillot to the New York Daily News. “We have nothing to worry about.”
Later on, Guillot claimed he had “proof” that Saez used an electronic device. He also claimed to have sent video — from a cell phone — to the New York State Gaming Commission. “The gaming commission is working on it,” Guillot said at the time. “I brought them the video. I showed it to 100 people and it ain’t been one person to deny it. You see a blurry, black device go from the right hand to the left hand and then he drops it.”
After a thorough investigation, though, the New York State Gaming Commission issued a full report, exonerating Saez and dismissing the claims made by Guillot.
It now appears that the trainer has once again found himself in the middle of a broil. One that may or may not go away as quickly as his last allegation.